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This thought has been something that has been in my head for the past couple of weeks and is starting to appear in many of my MSP coaching sessions with clients, and that is the idea of interest versus commitment and what it means.

According to one MSP in the Carlsbad, California area, “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results” stated Debra Paiser-Contreras from Syndeo Communications.

What does this mean for the average IT service company?  How does it impact our sales pipeline?  How about our client relations?  Lots of questions on where the interest versus commitment debate can affect what we do in our day-to-day business and the way we deliver services to our clients.

Let us for look at the sales process.  Are your sales professionals continuously chasing down those clients who are interested, or are they working with potential clients who are committed to the going through the sales process with us? Being a sales professional myself, I know many of my peers are looking for those interested in hearing what we have to say while working with those who are committed to doing business with us.  In sales, the differences are in the grey area, and it is okay for our sales professionals to work with those committed while continuously looking for new interest.

Where these lines must become black and white comes after the agreement is signed.  IT service providers simply cannot continue to spin their wheels with those interested.  We must focus on those individuals who are committed to working with us.  Committed clients are the best clients.  Committed clients are often very strategic when it comes to working with technology.  Committed clients often see technology as a business enabler and as a tool which gives them the competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Channel professional Jay McBain has shared “Reminds me of the old saying….ham and eggs…the chicken is interested, the pig is committed!”  Very true when it comes to our relationships with clients.  Commitment must be a two-way street.  Service providers must be completely committed to the success of their clients and vice versa.  This is where true business and even personal relationships flourish.

Committed clients also help us to flourish.  Remember, committed clients know that successful business relationships require two groups to help steer the ship in the right direction.  Committed clients understand that bills are paid on time.  They are the ones who trust you and pay your invoices when they are due.  Paiser- Contreras continued with “Commitment is doing what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it!!!”

For those who have customers who are not committed, they may come to realize that their time is chewed up haggling over 5 minutes on an invoice; and these same customers deprive you from running a highly profitable business.  Your clients who are committed play at a whole different level from your customers just looking for the best deal possible.

So why do IT service providers continue to take on customers not interested in a full business commitment?  Easy answer, we have been conditioned to take on every opportunity that comes our way.  Good and bad.  Poor or rich.  Successful and not.  True messaging is now changing from many MSP coaches however; some of us are so hungry to the point that we take on every interested party, trying really hard to get them to commit to us, and we burn out trying.  We continue to focus our energy on those not committed while the gems may just find another service provider who focuses on their needs.

Where do you want to play — with clients who are committed or customers who are merely interested?  The choice is yours.  Look around at some of the most successful service providers in our industry.  What are they doing that you are not?  Where are they investing their resources?  Who are they partnering with?  What type of clients do they attract?

The timing is perfect to start planning for the future.  Start 2012 on the right foot.  Start looking for opportunities with committed clients and toss out, stop spinning your wheels with those just interested and consider outsourcing things like your live help desk so you can focus on bringing in new business and ramping up new clients..  It will burn up your entire schedule.